Community Sports

Aguilera a serious contender at Chuckanut Foot Race

Ferndale’s Roberto Aguilera sprints to the finish line during a cross country meet against Squalicum and Lynden at Berthusen Memorial Park on Wendesday, Sept. 17, 2014 in Lynden.
Ferndale’s Roberto Aguilera sprints to the finish line during a cross country meet against Squalicum and Lynden at Berthusen Memorial Park on Wendesday, Sept. 17, 2014 in Lynden. The Bellingham Herald

Nearing the precipice of his prep running career, soon-to-be Ferndale senior Roberto Aguilera is primed for a culminating year in which he aims to reach all the goals he’s aspiring to capture.

Aguilera already has established himself as one of the top young runners in Whatcom County.

He finished 19th during the Class 3A State Cross Country Meet last fall, running a time of 15 minutes, 58.15 seconds in the 3.1-mile race.

During track and field season, his strong performances continued, setting massive new personal bests in the 1,600 and 3,200.

Aguilera is looking forward to what his bright future holds, and he’ll test his skills again during the 48th Annual Chuckanut Foot Race 9 a.m. Saturday, July 11, in Bellingham.

But a glance back details a fast rise that arguably would have never of happened it weren’t for another Roberto Aguilera, Roberto’s dad, who’ll also be running Saturday.

“My dad was actually the one who inspired me to start running,” Roberto said in the phone interview. “I think in eighth grade, middle school, he wanted me to do sports so I didn’t have to be home all day. Didn’t want me to be a lazy kid I guess.”

Roberto’s dad began began asking him to accompany him on runs. After some nudging, Roberto agreed. And before long, he developed an affinity for it.

“At first I didn’t like running,” Roberto admitted. “He always told me to go on runs with him. ... I got into it at that point, I guess,” Roberto said. “’Wow, running isn’t that bad.’ It just flies because you do it everyday, and I got use to it.”

Roberto began competing in eighth grade, but never considered himself a strong runner. He certainly didn’t anticipate reaching the caliber of athlete he is today.

Although he predominately runs 5K races during cross country and 1- and 2-mile races during track and field, Roberto loves distance races.

Part of the reason he began ascending as a runner sophomore year was because he stopped running half marathons during the cross country season so he could focus solely on school competition.

So covering the 7-mile trail race from the start line at Marine Park in Bellingham up through the Chuckanut Mountains to the finish line at Larrabee State Park will be no problem for Roberto.

“I have been doing it for at least four years, and it’s one of my races,” Roberto said. “Just being up there in the Chuckanut Mountains is nice and the whole views with it.”

Roberto each year has slowly worked his way up the list of top placers, and last summer he finished sixth with a chip time of 43:06.8, and a first-place finish this weekend wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility.

He’ll have to top a field loaded with some of the best runners, young and old, Whatcom County and beyond has to offer.

“Just winning it, that would be an amazing feeling,” Roberto said. “There are so many (great runners). I just know I’ve trained hard enough to earn the win.”

Roberto said he’s ramped up his training this summer, elevating it to a level he hasn’t gone to before. He’s been covering between 50-55 miles per week.

And Roberto has plenty of motivation.

He enjoyed a fine spring, running PRs of 4:17.19 in the 1,600 and 9:10.66 in the 3,200, but he again was denied a Class 3A State Meet berth during districts.

Needing to place in the top three to advance to state, the Ferndale runner finished fourth in both the 1,600 and 3,200.

“It was pretty heartbreaking for me, because I was ranked well up in the district,” Roberto said. “I was nervous, I guess. I never knew their race style.”

Roberto, who is hopeful to run in college and has received interest from Boise State among other schools, is determined to have a different ending to his senior year.

A win, or at least a strong time at the Chuckanut Foot Race, would be a nice way to start Roberto’s upward trajectory.

Reach Andrew Lang at 360-756-2862 or andrew.lang@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Sports Blog at bellinghamherald.com/sports-blog. Follow him on Twitter at @BhamSports and on Facebook at WhatcomCountySports.

48th Annual Chuckanut Foot Race

When: 9 a.m. Saturday, July 11

Where: Start line at Marine Park in Bellingham

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